The Death of Knowing | Teen Ink

The Death of Knowing

December 29, 2011
By FluteFreak SILVER, Auburn, Indiana
FluteFreak SILVER, Auburn, Indiana
8 articles 0 photos 43 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Insanity just adds a little spice to life!" -Me

The blood spilt out onto the pavement, staining the black surface red. Blood ran out of her scraped chest, her slit throat, and her gaping mouth. No one stopped to look, though.

The butcher continued arguing loudly with his customer about the price of a pound of beef. The businesswoman continued to chat idly on her cell phone, drawing up sales profits on her laptop. A lone educator sat at an outdoor café, staring into his coffee cup. No one saw her.

The life bled out of the girl, light retreating from her eyes slowly. Her hair matted and tangled in her own blood.

A future doctor and current student stepped delicately over the body, not even noticing whom it was. She wished they would clean the filth off the streets; it made the city look poor and run down.

The teacher left his seat, intending to pay for his drink. Unwillingly, he cast his eye over the girl and turned away quickly. His coffee fell out of his hand, splattering onto the sidewalk and spoiling the businesswoman’s new leather shoes. The CEO shot him a dirty look.

All thoughts of paying escaped the teacher's mind. Moaning, he staggered away from the café and broke into a run.

The image wouldn't leave.

Her innocent eyes wide and pleading… Run.

Her white shirt stained with blood… Faster.

Her books still clutched at her side… Run.

His legs burned from the effort, but he finally reached his apartment. Quickly, he whipped open the door, activating thirteen locks as he slammed it shut. He hadn’t signed up for this.

His mind burned with the image. Drunkenly, he stumbled into the shower, turning the cold water on.

White pages tainted with vile red… He fell hard into the cold wall. Even it could not block out the memories, though.

Braleyn Hasley raised her hand slowly, her brown eyes looking expectantly at him. He didn’t know why she was waiting. The dismissal bell had rung and all the other students had already vacated the premises. But she was still there.

“Yes?” he asked, turning from the chalkboard.

The girl bit her lip uncertainly. “Teacher, why is it we no longer read books?”

The educator’s jaw tightened. It was not a question he was supposed to answer by order of The Administration. He spared a glance at the security camera, now deactivated for repairs. He looked back at the girl, who still gazed up at him curiously.

“My mother and grandfather always tell me about books and writing,” she said anxiously. “What are they?”

He seated himself at his desk. She was in high school, a half a year away from graduating. He grimaced. She deserved to know.

He proceeded to tell her about the new administration emplaced nineteen years ago, before she was born, and when he himself was only a teenager.

“Books are not outlawed; though, their usage is highly discouraged,” he concluded. He winced, remembering some of his friends who openly used such scandalous things in their teaching methods. They had disappeared nine months ago.

She looked at him, awed. The silence was tense in the room, and, despite himself, the teacher glanced up at the camera. He should not have told her.

“I want to read,” the girl whispered. “I want to write.”

The educator looked back at her, surprised by her quiet determination.

“Will you teach me?’

Hesitatingly, the teacher nodded. It was in his silent oaths as an educator to teach. And he would.

The secret, nightly meetings began a month later, taking place in his apartment. The girl had insisted on it there. She had argued that her father was a policeman, a government official. Her aunt was equally conservative about books. Besides, she had said, he had all the books anyway. Grudgingly, the educator had agreed.

How many times had she sat, patiently listening to him at his kitchen counter?

He slid further down the shower wall, stomach twisting. He let out a sobbing moan.

Oh God, what had he done?

Her face beaten and bruised…

Her hair matted and twisted…

White turned red…

His stomach lurched. And nobody had noticed. They had all passed by. She had merely been another exhibition of the dangers of learning and knowing too much.

The educator scrubbed his mouth vigorously and left the bathroom, the water still pounding in the shower.

He averted his eyes from the pile of books, half covered by a blanket in the corner of the room. He vowed to burn them that night.

Her eyes glassy and unseeing…

Her lips parted slightly, unmoving…

Her chest painfully still…

The educator shook his head, pouring himself a large glass of wine. He didn't bother to water it down, as he usually did. He downed the liquid in one gulp.

Fingers wrapped around novels…

Clothes torn and muddied…

Red smeared on black…

Another glass disappeared. Many more followed it. Finally, the bottle ran out and the teacher staggered, drunken, over to his couch.

His couch. Where she had spent so much time laughing and learning.

His couch. Where she had laid her eyes on her first printed text.

His couch. Where she would no longer sit.

He groaned. Even in drunken stupor, the image would not leave. He broke out another glass.

The books disappeared into the flames, fire devouring them rapidly. The pages blackened and turned to ash.

Her face, lit with eagerness…

Her eyes, so starved for knowledge…

Her voice, never failing to fill the silence…

A soft moan drowned out the crackling of the fire.

The educator buried his face in his hands.

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This article has 13 comments.

on Aug. 13 2012 at 9:11 am
PhoenixCrossing GOLD, Tinley Park, Illinois
14 articles 0 photos 178 comments
I really enjoy this piece. It's very interesting. It just reminds me a lot of the one novel, Farenheit 451, I believe. I really like your imagery and where the story was going. Also, your attention getter was outstanding. The only thing I didn't like was your ... use. I didn't like it at all. It wasn't sophisticated enough and I think it just messed up the story. You only use an elipses to draw out a very dramatic part and you can only use it so many times before it loses its meaning and just becomes annoying. Anyways, good job!

Lacer GOLD said...
on May. 18 2012 at 1:25 pm
Lacer GOLD, Highland Village, Texas
19 articles 0 photos 72 comments

Favorite Quote:
The thing about philosophy is that it often runs dry when thought of so shallowly.

You have good context, a semi-common theme, and you control your characters thoughts. Your syntax is excellent, yoru action isn't too rushed, but some details are a little stilted...

You need better transition between the teachers dream and reality, use asteriks, or italics or something better distinguishing. You describe your scenes well, which is good, and helped me catch on to the transition, but that little fix would still be good.

However, the theme is confused. At first, we assume that the dead girl is a metaphor, but then we learn that she really was killed. But, did the government rally just cut her down in the middle of the sidewalk? Even for a cold dictatorship, thats pretty up in everyones faces.
You can have the teacher see her die, just don't put her corpse in th middle of the street, that'd give you a little more consitency, and it wouldn't make the world look so bad, because the point isn't the world is apathetic, the point is that the world needs reading and writing;creative in/output. And I don't think that a lack of output will make people extremely apathetic. Maybe stupid, disciminating and cold, but to this extent? And only nineteen years ago? Maybe if you refocus the problem; not apathy, but some other deep, underlying problem. Go a little more in depth into society! What do they do for entertainment instead of read? That's where we'd like to see a little more of what society is actually like, not what the government does to people.

on Apr. 13 2012 at 11:20 am
Allicat001 SILVER, Waukesha, Wisconsin
6 articles 0 photos 170 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Love is not someone you can live with, love is someone you can't live without."

"Always stand up for what's right even if that means you're standing alone."

Absolutely amazing!  You did an awesome job with putting details in your story, keep it up!

Zero GOLD said...
on Mar. 17 2012 at 11:02 am
Zero GOLD, Langley, Washington
10 articles 0 photos 13 comments
Wow, that's really GOOD! I love the details you put in!

on Mar. 6 2012 at 5:35 pm
beautifulspirit PLATINUM, Alpharetta, Georgia
35 articles 0 photos 1398 comments

Favorite Quote:
The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.
--Eleanor Roosevelt

The imagery used was fantastic. I could picture the story along as I read to myself. What a world this would be without the knowledge of books---their existence is so important. I wouldn't want to live in that world. This had sort of a futuristic vibe to it. I could imagine this all happening in a place/setting such as V for Vendetta and Minority Report or from the book The Hunger Games(can't wait for the movie!). Anyways great job~

on Mar. 5 2012 at 6:45 am
Tatiel PLATINUM, Washington, Vermont
23 articles 21 photos 57 comments

Favorite Quote:
Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.
~Mark Twain

Wowwwww. I love this! It reminds me of Farenheit 451. =) I love how you don't tell your readers everything right up front, and leave them guessing as to who the girl is and why the sight of her causes the teacher to run. Your last sentence is very good. =D

on Mar. 2 2012 at 3:31 pm
ChampagneSun SILVER, Medford, New Jersey
8 articles 0 photos 7 comments

Favorite Quote:
Do not read as children do, to amuse yourself, or like the ambitious, for the purpose of instruction. No, read in order to live.

Fill the pages with the breathings of your heart.

This was fantastic! The suspense was just right. I loved how you slowly revealved what was happening over time. At first it seems like two seperate scenes: a dead/dying girl and a normal city street. Then you reveal they are the same scene, which for me as a reader obviously makes me wonder 1. who the girl is 2. why she is dead and most importantly 3. why is no one worried about the fact that there is a dead girl on the street.

Finishing this I really want to know what happens next! What does the educator do? Or maybe even a prequel to the story like more about the world as it is in this story with book banned as well as their lessons etc. I am really quite in awe of how good this was! 

on Mar. 2 2012 at 3:14 pm
LoonyLoopyLupin GOLD, Raynham, Massachusetts
13 articles 0 photos 52 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I am proud of who I am. I believe in what I do." -Pavel Chekov (Star Trek The Original Series, episode: "The Way To Eden")

Wow: I'm completely in awe after reading this. It's such a unique concept, and you carried it off so well. This is a really interesting world you've created, where reading is outlawed. Such a creative idea! I think you did a really fantastic job on this.

on Mar. 2 2012 at 3:14 pm
LoonyLoopyLupin GOLD, Raynham, Massachusetts
13 articles 0 photos 52 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I am proud of who I am. I believe in what I do." -Pavel Chekov (Star Trek The Original Series, episode: "The Way To Eden")

Wow: I'm completely in awe after reading this. It's such a unique concept, and you carried it off so well. This is a really interesting world you've created, where reading is outlawed. Such a creative idea! I think you did a really fantastic job on this.

on Feb. 16 2012 at 7:52 pm
SteelJam BRONZE, Cheswick, Pennsylvania
3 articles 1 photo 19 comments
I love this! The first part kind of reminded me of the murder case of Kitty Genovese when she was killed while everyone saw, but no one called the police, but then as I read on I saw that it was so much deeper. I loved it! 5 out of 5 stars!

on Feb. 7 2012 at 5:30 pm
SpringRayyn PLATINUM, Lakeville, Minnesota
34 articles 2 photos 658 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Don't punish yourself," she heard her say again, but there would be punishment and pain, and there would be happiness too. That was writing."
--Markus Zusak, "The Book Thief"

That is amazing. I like the effect of the short sentences. At the beginning I was a little confused, but then after a little bit I understood why the teacher would be the one to run. This is actually the best-written work I've read on teenink in a really long time and I really like it. Awesome job and keep writing!

on Feb. 2 2012 at 4:19 pm
MidnightWriter SILVER, Ontario, Other
6 articles 0 photos 225 comments

Favorite Quote:
Writers are a less dangerous version of the career criminal. Everywhere they go, they see the potential for the perfect crime. The difference is that writers have better self control.

Nice piece. The subject matter seems a little familiar, but it's well written. I like how you seperated the sentences into single lines. It gives off a nice effect as one reads.

on Jan. 14 2012 at 12:39 pm
SarasotaWonder BRONZE, Cumberland, Maine
1 article 0 photos 61 comments
Wow! What great drama and rythmn to this....and plot! (You could really make a novel out of this if you wanted to....reminded me a tad of Farenheit 451) The only thing I noticed was that in the begining you used "blood" a lot...just a fyi. Though, right after the scene of the dying girl, I thought it transitioned really well with the butler.....and how he deals with blood too :)